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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/29/10

The Ultimate Israeli Obstacle to Peace with the Palestinians

Message Dave Lefcourt
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The ultimate Israeli obstacle to any peace accord with the Palestinians appears to rest with "Israel's Holy Warriors,"[1] the messianic Jewish settlers in the West Bank, (and previously in settlements in Gaza before they were torn down by the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] in 2005 when Ariel Sharon unilaterally withdrew from Gaza).

"Homesh" was one of the Jewish settlements demolished (in the West Bank) in that year as part of the Gaza disengagement and the people resettled elsewhere but, "This hasn't stopped some messianic Jewish settlers from returning to build it. Again and again in recent years the IDF has dispatched soldiers to remove them, but the settlers keep coming back"turning the ruins of Homesh into a symbol of their spiritual resolve."[2]

Significantly, at an induction ceremony for new recruits to the "Shimshon Battalion" of the IDF in October 2009, "two of the recruits unfurled a banner proclaiming" Shimshon Does Not Evacuate Homesh."[3] Though the two soldiers were punished for this "disgraceful disciplinary aberration"[4] (20 days in prison and expelled from the battalion) another sign by the "Kfir" brigade read, "Kfir Does Not Expel Jews"[5], indicating a further display of solidarity with the settlers. Two of the soldiers (squad leaders) of this brigade "refused an order to block right wing activists from reaching another West Bank settlement ("Nahshon") where the Israeli Civil Administration had ordered the demolition of two illegal buildings."[6]

A conspicuous change has been gradually occurring within the IDF. Apparently a quarter of the new officer corps of the IDF are ultra religious (wear skullcaps) and in the combat army units the orthodox members are two to three times greater than their percentage in the general Israeli population and more so in the Special Forces.

Where once Jews from European extraction made up the senior officer corps of the IDF and secular middle class Israeli's aspired to the elite battalions, today immigrants and religious soldiers have replaced them with "some 30 % of officers openly orthodox"and 50% of soldiers in officer training colleges are now religious."[7] They increasingly "see themselves as leading the army."[8]

Prior to the outbreak of the Gaza War in January last year, a rabbi depicted the upcoming" battle between bnei ha-or- the children of light- and bnei ha-hosheh- the children of darkness. In Hebrew literature this is eschatological war, a messianic war."[9]

Some religious pamphlets strewn about the base (prior to the Gaza onslaught) "called for soldiers to show no mercy toward the enemy,"[10] (a U.N. sponsored report [rejected by Israel] depicted the Gaza war as just that, showing no mercy toward the Gazans trapped in the onslaught.

The question persists in the mind of this writer; if and when ultra religious zealots dominate the IDF (as appears likely) and if orders to demolish settlements in the much more populous West Bank are refused to be obeyed as some of the settlement rabbis have advocated i.e., "The holy Torah prohibits taking part in any act of uprooting Jews from any part of our sacred land,"[11] then what can be the basis of a real peace settlement with the Palestinians, who the Israeli settlers despise and will not accommodate on land their orthodox beliefs say is the sacred land of and for the Jews?

Palestinian's are uprooted by Jewish settlers in (seemingly) any part of the West Bank as they see fit as the Jewish settlers believe they are resettling land on land that was granted to them by God and therefore the Palestinians are there "illegally" and thus it is the settlers right (bestowed upon them as said in holy scripture) that they take back what is rightfully theirs.

That Palestinians have inhabited these lands for centuries and multitudes of generations is completely dismissed and disregarded by the messianic Jewish settlers.

As long as the latter continue to prevail (and since the 1967 war they have proliferated with some 400,000 plus settlers in the West Bank and defended by IDF) there appears no basis for a two state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The messianic Jewish settlers will oppose it and likely fight against any peace agreement with the Palestinians which they don't recognize as having any legitimate rights to "our sacred land."

It has been and remains an intractable conflict with two opposing sides claiming their rights to the same lands and each side recognizing no rights by the other.

Only wishful thinking can envision a compromise and a successful peace accord. Sadly, the ongoing reality says continued conflict between the antagonists is inevitable.

[1] "Israel's Holy Warriors", by Eyal Press, "The New York Review of Books", April 29, 2010.

[2] See footnote #1

[3] See footnote #1

[4] See footnote #1

[5] See footnote #1

[6] See footnote #1

[7] See footnote #1

[8] See footnote #1

[9] See footnote #1

[10] See footnote #1

[11] See footnote #1

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